KIA have made great inroads in the past few years into the UK car market – especially in the value for money small to medium size family car sectors.
But if my latest test vehicle is anything to go by the Korean car maker looks set to conquer more upmarket territory as their latest Sorento model is very impressive indeed.
Now even though the HEV self-charging hybrid ‘4’ model we tried out for a week is a top spec, mid-price range £46,945 that is still value for money as the quality, performance and kit list is on a par with premium manufacturers who charge much more for the same level of equipment and finish.
Redesigned for 2021 the new Sorento has a more squared off look, again reflecting more expensive competitors, while the new interior is plush indeed, even – dare I say – a bit Bentley-esque!
With quilted leather heated seats (all round) plus cooled with memory function in the front and quality materials used throughout (although some of the leather is faux) the latest Sorento boasts other premium refinements like a heads up display, adaptive cruise control, panorama glass sunroof, a full seven seats, 360 degree camera system, wireless phone charging and smart power tailgate.
It’s a full 4×4 yet, thanks to that hybrid set-up, I managed a shade over 41mpg during a week of very mixed driving, which is not bad for such a large SUV
The car has a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 59bhp electric motor to drive down CO2 emissions and fuel consumption while the plug in version’s larger battery can deliver a pure electric range of around 35 miles.
Four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox come as standard and our ‘self-charging’ hybrid (HEV) is sprightly with 0-60mph taking 8.7 seconds thanks to 226bhp on tap. The plug-in PHEV model has a bigger battery and electric motor so 0-60mph takes 8.4seconds.
Higher spec 3 and 4 trim versions have larger 19in wheels and come with self-levelling rear suspension for better stability. The car switches seamlessly from electric to petrol power and its automatic gear changes are smooth and the brakes good.
There’s a digital display behind the steering wheel and one neat safety feature is that the left or right dials switch to a blind spot camera view as you indicate. All versions get front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, as well as full LED headlights.
The central 10.3in screen is sharp but a little fiddly with attractive graphics and all three rows of seats have USB ports (eight in total). Entry-level models get a six-speaker stereo while our top-spec 4 trim boasts a more powerful Bose system with 12.
This is a big car so there’s plenty of space for the driver and passengers with the third row seats being full adult sized – unlike some seven seat competitors.
That external redesign for this bigger all round fourth generation Sorento sees a more aggressive large front grille and radically redesigned rear lights while the platform is reworked, the engine range expanded and active safety and driver assistance technology boosted to tempt in potential customers who have never considered a Kia before.
I enjoyed my week with the latest Sorento, which may well convert large SUV lovers over to Kia – and for those badge snobs who still turn their noses up at the value for money brand then it is their (financial) loss.
As with all Kias the Sorento comes with an industry-leading seven-year (or 100,000-mile) warranty and prices start from £39,110 for the self-charging hybrid in ‘2’ trim up to £53,755 for the top spec 261bhp plug in hybrid.
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth